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End of an era as industry mourns HR guru Francis Muhindi

By James Kimondo | July 22nd 2021
The late Francis Muhindi, who died on Sunday [Courtesy]

The human resource consultancy industry is mourning a man who set up one of the top-notch indigenous firms in the country and region.

Francis Githui Muhindi, the founder and managing director of Manpower Services Group, died on Sunday at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital, 10 days after being transferred from Aga Khan Hospital.

Muhindi had scaled the ladder from a junior accountant at diminutive Toyo Menka Kaisha Ltd in 1974 to a leading human resource consultant in East Africa.

He recruited the largest number of CEOs across all sectors, from top government officials, parastatal honchos, multinational officials to top officers of NGOs, faith-based organisations and private companies.  

Muhindi also trained 50,000 staff on various management courses in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

“Mr Muhindi had a unique style; he invested a lot of time in people – spending long hours with clients at his famous Serena Tea Talks – to select, recruit and mentor corporate leaders and chief executives for parastatals, NGOs, higher education institutions and government agencies,” said Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu.

Muhindi incorporated Manpower Services in December 1990 after leaving the Standard Group PLC. He joined the group as advertising manager, a position he held between 1978 and 1982. He moved up the ladder to be marketing director, general manager and eventually managing director by the time he left in 1990.

Before joining Standard Group, he worked at Robbialac Paints Company as regional marketing assistant for East Africa from 1975 to 1976 and area sales manager from 1977 to 1978.

During his time at the Standard, he trained the marketing staff to excel in their profession, a tradition that persists at the group to date. 

“He was instrumental to the growth of the Standard Group in the 1980s, introducing novel products that became household names. Indeed, in 2018 when the Standard Group celebrated 100 years of incorporation, it was to Mr Muhindi that we turned to give us invaluable insights into the golden age of Kenya’s media,” Mr Lyomu said.

Muhindi set up Manpower Services to tap into the recruitment gap in middle-level management staff, who were then ignored by expatriate recruitment firms in the country. Years later, he incorporated Manpower Uganda in 2000 and Manpower Tanzania in 2001.

By the time the country was enacting a new constitution in 2010, Manpower’s portfolio had grown so much so that it was incorporated to recruit for strategic positions of the new Kenya.

“Mr Muhindi has made his contribution to Kenya and the world, and his memory will certainly live in the lives of the many people he has trained and mentored and the institutions he has impacted. May God rest his soul in eternal peace,” Lyomu said.

His sudden demise came as a shock to many who knew him. Messages of condolences to the family and staff of Manpower Services continue to flow.

Muhindi is survived by five children.

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